Space Hulk: Deathwing Enhanced Edition Preview – Updated and Ready for Console (PS4)
The weather outside in Paris, France last week may have been dreadful, but that didn’t stop Focus Home Interactive from hosting their Le What’s Next de Focus exhibition, a tightly-focused two-day event showcasing what’s coming up from their stable of developers. PlayStation LifeStyle managed to spend some quality hands-on time with Streum On Studio’s upcoming Space Hulk: Deathwing Enhanced Edition, and we have our impressions available for you below.
A Storied Franchise
Space Hulk games take place in the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game universe. For those unaware, the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop games take place in the 41st century AD, featuring all kinds of science fiction fantasy. Space hulks are objects within this universe which are masses of asteroids, ancient, forgotten space ships, and other random debris. Aliens known as Genestealers often inhabit these masses, while beefed-up Space Marine Terminators are sent in to investigate the space hulks, often fighting the Genestealers along the way. This is a franchise which has been running successfully since 1987 and is well-established.
With over thirty years’ worth of source material, there is plenty for developer Streum On Studio to choose from to make a first-person shooter. They’ve put the player in charge of a Terminator of the Deathwing – a “feared 1st Company comprised of the elite of the secretive Space Marine Chapter, the Dark Angels.” Basically, the best of the best. Terminators wear massive armor, which protects them from hordes of enemies.
Space Hulk: Deathwing played like a fairly traditional FPS. There were multiple classes to choose from, such as the Space Hulk equivalents of assault, sniper, tank, support, and more. Each class had varying weapons to unlock, but for the purposes of our demo we had everything unlocked from the outset. Normally, experience is earned through completed battles, and items earned through combat. Controls felt a bit slower than traditional FPS games, perhaps in an effort to drive home the point that the player is controlling a large superhuman wearing clunky, lumbering armor.
The mission played during this demo was one of the new Enhanced Edition’s Special Missions. Set up in a squad of three, it was my goal to wipe out the area of enemies by placing charges in key positions on the space hulk. The other two in my squad were AI-controlled, and could be directed to perform various actions or assume certain tactics as the situation called. Bringing up the action menu could get a little cumbersome in the heat of battle, but it’s probably something that simply takes some getting used to. Maps in this mode are also randomly generated. While the layout remains the same, elements of the rooms will change with each playthrough. An example given was a hallway that was blocked in my session, which was not blocked in previous sessions. This should help to extend the replayability of the Enhanced Edition.
The original Space Hulk: Deathwing launched in December 2016 on the Microsoft Windows platform. Now, however, the best edition of the game is launching on current-generation consoles including the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It’s a first-person shooter, which obviously adapts well to console controllers. Furthermore, the Unreal Engine powers the experience, which is all the more reason to support consoles.
Speaking of the Unreal Engine, this Deathwing Enhanced Edition certainly looked the part of enhanced. Now, sure, we were playing on a Windows computer with an unspecified NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPU (likely the 1080 that’s all the rage these days) with an Xbox controller attached (gasp!). So the fidelity shown at this event is likely noticeably higher than even PS4 Pro owners will ever see. But traditionally, games on console running on the Unreal Engine look fantastic, provided a game’s assets are up to snuff. This should end up being one of the best-looking Warhammer 40,000 games available if all goes well.
Space Hulk: Deathwing features battles of a small squad of Space Marines against dozens of Genestealers at a time. The action did get quite hectic as enemies approached some of the tight corridors of the space hulk from multiple directions, and the aliens exploded in fantastic displays of blood and gore. From large, stalking predators to small, nimble monsters and even those which can become invisible, plenty of foes are thrown your way. Yet, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of tactics from these enemies, as they just sort of piled in our direction.
To those looking for a first-person shooter set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe on today’s consoles, your wait is almost over. Space Hulk: Deathwing Enhanced Edition is the definitive edition of the 2016 edition, featuring multiple fixes, better graphics, and even new gameplay modes. Hopefully this will satiate fans’ desires to live out their tabletop battles in glorious, bloody, epic action when the game launches later this year.
PlayStation LifeStyle would like to thank Streum On Studio and Focus Home Interactive for taking the time to demo Space Hulk: Deathwing Enhanced Edition. Watch this space for more coverage of the Le What’s Next de Focus event coming soon!